Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Music Of My Life

Beginning on July 5, 1987 "Alone" topped the charts for a period of 3 weeks. I had forgotten about that. That was a momentous month for me, it was the month in which Hubby and I got together, and the month in which a friend was murdered. Funny how life works isn't it?

I was 16 when I met Peppermint Patty. Too young to be in the bar where she worked as a bartender and part time Go-Go dancer. My girlfriend Cindy and I used to have to meet up with her Mom after we went shopping or attended USO functions and that was normally the place we were to meet her. We were there long enough to drink a Coke, and then her Mom would drop me off at home.

Patty, back then, was a lot of fun. Brassy and really beautiful, but not exactly someone I should have been impressed with. She was wild, loved to have a good time. I never knew her to intentionally hurt anyone else, just herself. She had lousy taste in men. Always seemed to chose the kind that would take what they want and dump her, or in the case of her only husband, beat her to the point where she nearly died.

That changed her in ways I never imagined she could change. Gone was the bold and beautiful brassy blonde and in her place was the tiny, fearful, mousy Patty. Drowning in drink and drugs, she surrounded herself with men from the gay community. In her desire to not be alone, she'd make bad decisions and then clutch onto anyone who would get her out of the situation she'd gotten herself into. Usually a man was involved. Most of the men who knew her understood that her mood had changed and she had become afraid of what they'd do to her. They'd let her get away with it. She'd grab onto me or Jayne and plead with us to help her, and of course we would.

I had started working 2 jobs and had to work on Sunday morning beginning at 7 so I wasn't out and about the way I might have been on the weekend of the field days. A new guy had started hanging around us, and I didn't like him so going out even for the early hours of a Saturday night didn't appeal to me that Saturday. He seemed to be trying to pick someone up all the time, and he made me uneasy so I chose to stay home. It was easier than spending my time trying to stay below his radar.

Jayne liked him, so when he asked Patty to accompany him to the field days, she helped him convince her to go. There is a part of me that fully understands that Patty would have died from an overdose, but somehow I've never been able to forgive Jayne for her part in what happened. There is still a lingering sense of guilt on my part for not having been there. She would have stayed with me and not gone because I would have shared with her my sense of unease about him. Jayne admitted in court during her testimony that she barely knew him and yet she talked Patty into leaving the safety of the bar where friends would look out for her and go with this creep. She told Patty "Roy was a good guy". Sorry Jayne, "good guys" don't beat women, nor do they burn cigarettes out on their bodies. They sure don't bite them until they bleed and leave them in isolated wooded areas to die. Alone.

What Jayne ended up doing was send Patty off with someone who had all ready murdered another woman and her 8 year old daughter. This was someone who thought nothing of killing women when they didn't give him what he wanted, and Patty wasn't the kind to give. She was too afraid of ending up dead at the hands of someone she thought loved her. She'd almost done that once.

The investigation into her death lasted all month and Hubby wound up in the middle of it. He didn't know Patty, had never hung out in the same bars, and everywhere we went together we got stopped by the police. Not having been there that night, I wasn't involved. Hubby, however, seemed to be a prime suspect. I lived half a block from the police station and every time he came to pick me up or stop for a visit, he'd be questioned. He vaguely fit the description of the murderer...well, they had the same hair color and he is a male. The interest had very little to do with that, it was because of his car. Hubby drove a two tone brown Mercury Montego which was identical to the two tone brown Ford Torino that the perpetrator drove.

They finally caught the guy which was when I found out that it was the guy who had made me so uneasy. The bite marks sealed his fate and he was convicted of not only murdering Patty, but of the murder of the nurse and her 8 year old daughter 2 years prior. His conviction was dismissed once on a technicality, but he was retried again and found guilty...again.

We have a local oldies radio station that advertises itself as the station that plays the "music of your life". For the three weeks that "Alone" by Heart was number 1 on the charts the lives of three people, who were alone, changed. This morning I am alone with some bittersweet memories. This was the weekend in 1987 that Patty died. The times are different, but the songs still the same.

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